Leslie Buckley: I welcome the chance to vindicate my good name

Former INM chairman responds to appointment of High Court inspectors to company

Leslie Buckley: “I intend to robustly defend myself against each and every allegation.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leslie Buckley: “I intend to robustly defend myself against each and every allegation.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Leslie Buckley, the former chairman of Independent News and Media (INM), has welcomed the appointment of High Court inspectors to the company as an opportunity to “vindicate” himself against allegations that he broke the law there.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Buckley said he “noted” the decision by Mr Justice Peter Kelly to appoint the inspectors, on foot of an application by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

“I welcome the opportunity to vindicate my good name through the inspection process,” said Mr Buckley. “I intend to robustly defend myself against each and every allegation. I continue to reserve my position.”

The inspectors are to be appointed to further an ODCE investigation into a range of allegations made by INM’s former chief executive, Robert Pitt, and its chief financial officer, Ryan Preston.

They alleged that Mr Buckley pressurised INM to vastly overpay for radio station Newstalk, which was being sold by Denis O’Brien, whom Mr Buckley represented on the INM board until he resigned in March. The proposed deal was abandoned.

‘Data breach’

Mr Pitt also alleged that Mr Buckley was involved in a suspected “data breach” in which outsiders were granted secret access to INM’s email servers. The ODCE told the court that a company linked to Mr O’Brien had paid the bill.

The ODCE alleged to the court that some of Mr Buckley’s text messages to Mr O’Brien suggested the former chairman may have been engaged in “unlawful” conduct, such as the distribution of “inside information” on INM.

In his judgment on Tuesday approving the appointment of inspectors, Mr Justice Kelly said: “I hold that Mr Buckley was a person connected with the management of the company and that on the evidence before me the circumstances suggest that he has been guilty of misconduct and misfeasance ...”

INM has launched legal action against Mr Buckley for the damage allegedly caused to the company by his conduct.